Swansea show up Premier League tedium

February 17, 2009

The (almost complete) lack of Premier League action at the weekend saw thumbs being sucked all over the place, and the Reuters Soccer Blog is no exception. While some were predicting the end of the Big Four, and others picked over Rafa Benitez’s latest contract comments, we found ourselves enthralled by the silky football displayed by Championship side Swansea City in their FA Cup game against Fulham.

Here, Padraic Halpin waxes ornithological about The Swans, while in the post below Neil Maidment bemoans the lack of on-field drama this season. Are they right? Is it just an overreaction? I’ll turn the comments off on Neil’s piece, just to keep things tidy, but they’re on here as usual. For now, over to Padraic:

Watching Swansea City play Fulham off the park on Saturday — even if their reward was only a fifth round replay trip to London — you almost hope they don’t gain promotion to the English top flight.

Swansea, sitting three points outside the championship playoff places with a game in hand, were magnificent in the 1-1 draw, demonstrating the passing game of a second-tier equivalent to the great Liverpool team of the 80’s.

Yet should the team coached by Spaniard Roberto Martinez join the survive-at-all-costs world of Premier League riches, would the one-touch philosophy instilled so finely into players like Jordi Gomez – on loan from Espanyol – and Welshman Joe Allen be preserved?

The widespread praise for Swansea’s “culture club” is actually more galling than encouraging. Would we have been so amazed at an English team endeavouring to win through attractive, attacking football 30 years ago?

“Martínez has done a wonderful job and he has a wonderful team. They play football the right way,” Fulham’s manager Roy Hodgson, whose team haven’t exactly been the worst culprits of a lack of premier adventure, said on Saturday.

Wouldn’t the great Brian Clough have insisted that was the only way to play football? Yet with TV revenue continuing to rise, relegation from the top flight remains too expensive a reality for any club to attempt to cut loose. Points far outweigh performance and one kicking too many at Everton or Bolton might force a change in promoted Swansea’s style.

What is certain is that a tie-of-the-sixth-round awaits Swansea against the European Champions if they can play Fulham off the scoreboard as well as the pitch next week.

One comment

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Swansea were really impressive in their draw against Fulham the first time round, and in fact they looked the better side, with Fulham struggling to contain them. This time round I think the same issues will apply, and with Fulham having fitness doubts since this game comes just 2 days after their last against West Brom, surely Swansea will have the advantage.

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